4 Jul 2015

Millions of Americans Have Nothing to Celebrate on the Fourth of July

To ring in another July Fourth, most Americans will kick off celebrations with beer, BBQ and fireworks. Most, but not all.


On Independence Day, the stirring words of Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence, promising "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness," set the tone. Buried a bit further down, however, is another passage that is somewhat less well-known:

"...the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions." 

That line, and America's subsequent history with Native Americans, goes a long way toward explaining why the holiday largely does not resonate with the United States' roughly 5.2 million indigenous peoples. 


"Any holiday that would refer to my people in such a repugnant, racist manner is certainly not worth celebrating," Simon Moya-Smith, a culture editor at Indian Country Today told Mic. "[July Fourth] is a day we celebrate our resiliency, our culture, our languages, our children and we mourn the millions — literally millions — of indigenous people who have died as a consequence of American imperialism." For him, Independence Day is a celebration of genocide. A number of tribes and nations contacted for this story expressed various levels of discomfort with the holiday.

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